World’s Largest Shark Sanctuary Established

Written by on December 16, 2012 in Policy & Ocean Law
Gray reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos).

Gray reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos)-found in Cook Islands’ EEZ. Photo credit: Paula Ayotte, NOAA.

The Cook Islands recently announced the creation of a new shark sanctuary in its waters.

The 1.9 million square kilometer sanctuary is adjacent to one established just last week by French Polynesia. Together, the sanctuaries make a 6.7 million sq km shark safe zone that is almost as large as Australia. This is the largest shark sanctuary in the world. Within its borders, all shark fishing and the sale or possession of shark products is banned.

“We are proud as Cook Islanders to provide our entire exclusive economic zone… as a shark sanctuary,” said Teina Bishop, Cook Islands minister of marine resources. “We join our Pacific neighbors to protect this animal, which is very vital to the health of our oceans, and our culture.”

“This is hopeful news for the world’s sharks and our efforts to protect them,” said Jill Hepp, director of shark conservation for the Pew Environment Group that helped make the sanctuary possible. “We are thrilled to see the Cook Islands become part of this global movement during a time when so many shark populations are threatened.”

To learn more:

Blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus).

Blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus)-found in Cook Islands’ EEZ. Photo credit: David Burdick, NOAA.

Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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